Legislation enhances student-athlete safety

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Photo by Chris Chow on Unsplash
Urban News Staff Reports

Gov. Phil Murphy signed two bills into law that will enhance student-athlete safety in New Jersey schools.

“School sports are a longstanding part of the fabric of our state,” said  Murphy. “By enacting these measures today, we are making sure that student-athletes have the resources and protections to enjoy school sports programs safely.”

“Too often we hear of tragedies occurring on sports fields that could have been avoided if the adults were properly trained to quickly address the situation,” said Dr. Lamont O. Repollet, Commissioner of Education. “The steps that we’re taking today will help provide greater levels of preparedness and protection, which will create a safer environment for student athletes throughout the state.”

S2443 requires each school district that is a member of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association is to adopt the association’s “Heat Participation Policy” for conducting practices and competitions in all sports during times of high heat or humidity. Under the bill, the association’s policy must address the scheduling of practices and competitions during times of various heat and humidity levels, the ratio of time devoted to workouts to time allotted for rest and hydration during various heat and humidity levels, and the heat and humidity levels at which practice will be canceled.

The bill also requires these school districts to purchase a WetBulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) tool to measure the heat stress in direct sunlight at the practice site. Heat stress consists of temperature, humidity, wind speed, the angle of the sun, and cloud coverage.

“Accounting for the intensity of weather, especially during New Jersey’s very hot and humid summer months, is extremely important if we want to do our best to safeguard student well-being,” said Assemblywoman McKnight. “By requiring schools to adopt the NJSIAA’s guidelines, we can hold schools accountable to a set standard.”

S2494 requires that any school district that includes any of the grades six through 12 establish and implement an emergency action plan for responding to a serious or potentially life-threatening sports-related injury. The plan will document the proper procedures to be followed when a student sustains a serious injury while participating in sports or other athletic activity. The plan will be specific to the activity site and is required to be developed in consultation with local emergency medical services personnel.

Primary sponsors of the bill include Senators Patrick J. Diegnan Jr., Sandra B. Cunningham and Assemblymembers Benjie E. Wimberly, Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, and Nancy J. Pinkin.

“In instances where schools are equipped with the training and procedures to manage injury there are almost always better outcomes,” said Assemblyman Wimberly. “After years in high school athletics myself, I know that injury is sometimes inevitable and that inevitability means we have duty to be prepared for any type of crisis at all times. Our students deserve the best of the best, inside and outside of the classroom, under this law we are holding schools to that promise.”

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